The Self-Righteous Son

I was blessed to read a study of the story of the prodigal son. When this story is told, the focus tends to be on the immature younger brother who squanders his inheritance yet is shown grace by a loving father. And while that story is great, there is another lesson to be learned, and it lies in the older brother. At the return of the younger son, the older son sits outside throwing himself a pity party. He complains to the father that he has ‘slaved’ for the father for years and hasn’t received the kind of treatment that the father is showing the wayward younger brother.

Pay close attention and at the end of the story you’ll see an older brother who is more concerned with possessions than with loving his brother or his father. You’ll see a boy who thought he was working for his father in order to gain possessions. And when he didn’t get the treatment he thought he deserved, he turns his back on his father, refusing to enter his father’s house.

And while many of us rather point the finger at all the prodigal sons in the world, we fail to realize that at times we can be the older brother, who was just as equally lost. We are in love with blessings, not the God who gives them, we are in love with things created, not the creator, we feel like our service to God has earned us rights and privileges and when we don’t receive what we think we’ve earned we turn our backs on God

This is a self-righteous mindset that must be broken. You have to remember….

1)    Your righteousness counts for nothing. Among all the right you’ve done, you’ve done more wrong. There is non who does righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). For ALL have fallen short (Romans 3:23).  Ask around, not one female would agree to wear a stained dress on her wedding day. Pretend your righteousness is a white wedding gown. Whether the gown of your righteousness has a small stain of sin or is smeared with sin, neither gown is acceptable to wear before the Bridegroom, Jesus, when He comes to be joined to His bride, you the church. ALL need a Savior.

2)    God does not owe you for your works. The wages of sin is death. As a sinner we have earned death, but He decided to show us mercy, and we have nerve to feel like He owes us. Better yet we have nerve to say that he treats us unfairly when we don’t get our way. If He were fair with us, we wouldn’t be able to bear the punishment.

3)    We often trade intimacy with God for stuff. We expect blessings; we expect a certain lifestyle when we have been faithful to God. The real victim of the story is the father. He pleads with his bitter eldest son, saying that anything that the son has ever wanted he has given to him freely, the house he lives in, the farm they own, a promised inheritance. The son is so concerned with getting stuff, he doesn’t realize that he has a loving father and has gained his lost brother back. Much like us, we rather have stuff than have God. God  freely gave us everything, His son, Himself through the Holy Spirit, and he will give us an inheritance in heaven. While we are on earth He is provider, shelter, lover, best friend, our strength, and life giver. Sometimes I feel that we choose stuff over God because we don’t know all that God can be for us. We don’t know all that God can be for us because we don’t know him intimately.

Sometimes I catch myself just doing the routine. I know that if I show up to some service events there will be perks, I’m gonna get a free t-shirt, a free meal, and get to chill with friends, a sure fire combo for a college student. I get so caught up in setting stuff up and working behind the scenes that I can go to church three times a week and not truly hear one message. We fall in love with the perks of serving, the physical perks or the praise. We fall in love with being part of leadership, become prideful of our faithfulness, drunk off the acknowledgment we receive. While in the midst of everything we lose intimacy with God. Pretty soon we expect the perks, we expect rewards for our service and faithfulness, we lose sight of who and why we do ministry. And unfortunately, because we expect and feel that we’ve earned blessings, the minute we don’t get them or the minute we feel God is holding back, we turn our backs on Him. Rejection of the Creator. Self-righteousness is deadly. We’re so busy looking for the prodigal son we miss the self-righteous son, remember both were equally lost.

our Father.

this goes out to those who believe they are among the fatherless crew. my heart and these words go out to you.

i’ve grown up in a fatherless home, no daddy around. just me. my mom. and my brother in the house. daddy walked out – left us cold. no letter, no hugs, he just had to go. sometimes, i’d cry. i wondered who would teach me how i was supposed to be approached by males. who was i to look at, mimicking a love between a woman and a man. where was i to go when my heart got broken. who would teach my brother how to be a man. who would teach him how to play sports. where would he go when he needed a man to man conversation. i always wondered these things. and my pillows were drenched in curiosity and anguish and lament for the longest. because i was branded a bastard. a child with no dad. just a kid made from a loveless sperm cell. nothing and no one more , nothing and no one less.
i could not fathom living another day with this burden i had placed upon myself with not having a father in our household. i wasn’t fully alive.
i never thought a day in my life that i’d be saying this … but my Father actually adopted me. my eternal Father … you know … your Father too … our Heavenly Father, God. He knew what He was doing when He allowed His own will to be done, by orchestrating our father’s out of our lives the way He did. by any Godly means necessary, He wanted us to fall down and call on Him, calling Him Daddy.
just as an earthly father would wrap his strong arms around his child in a quaky storm, our Heavenly Father wraps His strong arms around us through the good and the bad, eternally. that’s forever. that’s faithful. that’s Love. the Son of God gave His life up for you and i, why shall we continue to dwell upon what’s not, and what will possibly NEVER be here with us. we have Someone so much greater holding His arms out for us to come and rest in them. why must we continue to turn away?
we may have been left, mistreated, raped and/or molested by our earthly father … but now, we are adopted with love, grace, passion, and faithfulness by God the Father.  He has the remedy for the broken hearts.  our model of Love is demonstrated through the Son Christ Jesus and our Heavenly Father.  the Love we should mimic.  anything and everything we sought for in our earthy fathers, our Heavenly Father already has it and is willing and able to share it with us.
from this day forward, the word fatherless should no longer exist.  our Heavenly Father is not and will never be considered less than.  instead, He is greater than any and every father on this earth because He is the ultimate Daddy of them all – and He has graciously adopted you and i into His Kingdom.  there’s no reason to for any of us without an earthly father to be down and out on father’s day.  when in Truth, Father’s day is everyday because everyday is God’s day.

in the future, which will you choose to give your attention to?

Toilet Bowl Christianity

This is a blog about poop.

                                 (Well, sort of.)

Pooping is a private matter, (at least it is for most). It’s a necessary process that we as functional human beings are frequently involved in because we are all naturally poopers. When we have to poop, we go to a bathroom, stall, or behind a tree to “handle our business.” Then we wipe up (hopefully) and it’s back to business (work, school, friendships, relationships, etc.) as usual. We certainly don’t share the going-ons in that most private, moment with others…after all, it’s pooping and I sir do NOT wish to hear about it. Keep it to yourself.

Now take the words in red and in blue and replace them with Religion, Religious, be Religious and Religion respectfully and then Church, Mosque or Temple respectfully. Let me show you what you should have gotten:

Religion is a private matter, (at least it is for most). It’s a necessary process that we as functioning human beings are frequently involved in because we are all naturally religious. When we have to be religious, we go to a Church, Mosque, Temple to “handle our business.” Then we wipe up (hopefully) and it’s back to business (work, school, friendships, relationships, etc.) as usual. We certainly don’t share the going-ons in that most private, moment with others…after all, it’s religion and I sir do NOT wish to hear about it. Keep it to yourself.

Religion, like pooping, is pretty gross business. It’s shameful, private and discouraged from being discussed in company because it (like pooping) really doesn’t help anybody.

The Good News is that Jesus is not religion. Unlike Ghandi, Buddah, Joseph Smith, and all the others, Jesus is not poop, nor is He full of it.#Ouch, #Pow, #Thatboypreachin

Do you, [“Christian” reading this blog] treat Christianity like this? Then this is for you as well as everyone else on the commode:

Jesus is something that must be shared. Jesus is not a religious leader, social idea, personal emotional experience. Jesus is a freer of people from religion(avoidance of “big sins”, doing good things so God approves of you, church/temple/mosque attendance)! Please turn away from religion, get off your toilet bowls, repent and believe in Christ Jesus, because He loves you!

Grace and Peace.

Virus!

This is a true story. And if you’re reading this – it’s only by the grace of God!

Because my computer has a virus!

A few weeks ago I was determined to watch a video at any means necessary – even if it meant illegally downloading it. The first season of Glee was good, ya’ll!

(Bear with me, there is a point to this!)

So, in the process of trying to illegally download this information, I realized that I was downloading something that I did not want. When I tried to stop…well, it was already too late. There was something, possibly a virus trying to gain access to my computer. Thankfully, Norton Security popped up and alerted me that a virus had been downloaded, but it presented a *Fix option. Wonderful! I hit fix, restarted the computer when asked and went about my business. Everything was fine. Or so I thought….

Slowly, but surely, I increasingly noticed little quirks, if you will, in my computers operation. And every so often Norton Security would pop back up and let me know a virus has been detected and the *Fix option was recommended. I would click and move on my merry way…only less merry – because the quirks were getting worse. They were/are begining to interfere with more and more essential operating functions.

(Please, give me just a few more paragraphs – I’m telling you there’s a point!)

The function of my computer finally got so poor and so debilitating that I had no other choice but to take it to my father. He’s the Mr. Fix It of computers – and from the very moment I knew I had problems I knew he could fix it – or at least know what to do. The only thing that had kept me from going to him before was just a little bit of pride – but at this point, pride wasn’t worth saving, not with the necessary function of the computer he had given me on the line.

His diagnosis: I had a serious virus, that had been present for some time now. (Meaning: when I was pressing *Fix – nothing was happening, the virus remained!) And the virus had been remotely accessing my hardrive and stealing things that I need in order to maintain proper function. At some point I had changed my settings to allow a access to my computer to an unwanted culprit. I had alloweda virus into my system.

His proposed solution: In order to salvage my computer I must completely unload and reload all of my entire operating system/software (something along the lines of having to completely start over.) And, it may just in fact be best to switch operating systems entirely.

(Here comes the POINT: this is it!)

As Christians: We must completely switch operating systems!

Human nature comes attached with the virus downloaded onto our system when Adam (yes, prompted by the decieved Eve) sought information illegally (namely the Knowledge of Good and Evil): sin. Now, for some of us, we may not think twice about the virus. It may not seem to effect you for some time. But eventually it’s effects will become clear. It may show up as dysfunction in your relationships, a disconnect between you and joy, security, love, confidence, balance, peace, and purpose. And when it shows itself you will have two options. You can, as your conscience brings up the source of dysfunction or disconnect, decide to hit the self-help-I-can-fix-it-on-my-own button, or you can take it back to the one who knows best – the one who designed your system: the Father.

Take the second option. Try the Father. Sure, you’ll have to be baptized into Christ’s life death and ressurection and live a lifestyle denouncing your old mode of operating. But when you’ve got the Holy Spirit fighting off the old virus for you, you’re free to operate as you should, connect with God and others as you should, function as you should – with peace, in love, full of joy, with the most worthwhile of purposes: teaching others about the new System: Window to Heaven: Jesus Christ. There’s nothing like it.

All you need do is turn to the Father (God), aknowledge your current mode of operating is working, and accept the plan that He has set up for you: namely the redemptive work of Jesus (God, the Son) on the Cross. Jesus lived a perfect life, then died a death in which He took the punishment for all of our unperfect lives, and then rose back from the dead to live for the rest of eternity. If you believe that is true, then the next thing to do is to be baptized – sympolizing that you accept what Jesus has done for you – namely, take the punishment for your sins, live a perfect life for you to be given credit for, and then get up to live forever so that we might live forever with Him, too. And from there on out, trust in your new Operator, the Holy Spirit (i.e. God, the Spirit), and read your new manual (i.e. the Bible.)

Love you,

Please pray for my computer…

Because He Lives

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLsiNmVkksI&feature=PlayList&p=1522F714A2F83239&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=17] Written by Bill and Gloria Gaither, “Because He Lives” is a song that inspires hope in the listener because Jesus was able to conquer death and now is living in heaven close to His loving Father.  If He got through the pain, then it’s a guarantee that you can too.  The words of this song have been able to minister to me in many rough times in my life.  Savor these beautiful lyrics written about our Risen King! P.S.  This is a rendition of the song by one of my favorite singers – Fantasia!!

Lord and God Or a Madman (of Hell)?

“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” Mark 2:5 (ESV)

“…And they led him away to their council, and they said ‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But he (Jesus) said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’” Luke 22:66-69

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my (Jesus’) sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39

“So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’” John 10:24-30

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be a Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Above are Jesus’ own words of Himself and the reactions that they caused in His own time. Today everyone wants to say that Jesus was just another good moral preacher/teacher. It’s so easy to deal with him as we deal with Mohammed and Buddha, Confucius and Gandhi and put him in the category of “good men” and “great religious leader and philosopher”.  But Jesus is something and someone entirely different. The more that you get to know His Word, the more that you explore His speeches and teachings, the more you’ll find he’s nothing like what he’s been painted as: “another good teacher.”

Prayer (And Action) For Haiti

For the Chu’ch, we are always to be in prayer and always to be giving: Deuteronomy 15:11,  Matthew 25:35-41.

The current crisis in Haiti provides a very clear and necessary venue for Christians to direct their love and charities — and a multitude of prayers.

The Situation currently:

Tuesday, 4:50 p.m., an  7.0 magnitude magnitude hit the island of Haiti.
A weak infrastructure has left whole neighborhoods destroyed.
Many international and local relief buildings and hospitals within Haiti have been destroyed.
The destruction has left potentially tens-hundreds of thousands dead.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYFXX_mCvVs]

The Needs Currently:

Medical supplies/personel,
Clean water,
Shelters,
Food,
Rescue and relief workers,

God’s unbounded grace and mercy and supernatural assisstance for those who have survived.

Donations:

For those of us who cannot fly out to Haiti to assisst, here are two sites with more information on where and how you can send assistance. Please investigate, and invest. Prayers and resources.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/01/13/help-haiti
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/impact/
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/01/earthquake_in_haiti.html

As natural disasters in our own home have shown us: rescues, relief,  and full repairs take time. I urge you to stay interested and involved and aware of what is going on as over 3 million people are physically affected and an entire nation of people seek to recover from this horrific natural disaster. Get to know about Haiti and the struggles that may face in the future as they strive to rebuild and recoup from this disaster.

And Remember…

This is a time when the Love of Christ is absolutely necessary. Take the opportunity to share the same love that Christ has shown you. He saw us in our disasters, and not only did He desire that our situation (seperation from the eternal love of the Father) be changed, but He acted (put on humanity that He might die and suffer in our stead.)